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New Business Spotlight:Jacksonville Running Company


We are thrilled with our latest client success story. Jacksonville has a brand new running shoe store that makes it easy called the Jacksonville Running Company. Located on the Southside at Tapestry Park (off of Gate Parkway near Southside). Here is their story from a UNF SBDC perspective:
It was early in June 2008 when Owen Shott and his wife Jo came to the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida with a dream. As avid runners they and their partner Ted DeVos had a vision for a store catering to both serious and casual runners alike. The shoe brands would be selected by the owners personally and customers would be assured of a custom fit and great customer service. They had some rough figures as to how much it would cost to open the store which would be known as the Jacksonville Running Company.
They met with Certified Business Analyst Kevin Monahan who helped them analyze their estimates and encouraged them to write a strong business plan to serve as a blueprint for the project.

Owen and Jo returned with an effective plan that featured some great ideas in customer’s service. It would all start with the feet. The partners would use a comprehensive foot digital analysis program to gather data related to arch type, length, and width of your feet. They would also use frame by frame video analysis to determine what category of shoe stability the customer would require. Once fitted, the customer is encouraged to try the shoes out before making a purchase.
With a solid plan in hand, Monahan showed the partners how to present their idea to local banks. It would have to be a good pitch as loans were fast becoming harder and harder to obtain.
Among several banks visited by The Jacksonville Running Company was American Enterprise Bank. Marge Cerillo, Small Business Lender, felt they were an ideal candidate for a Small Business Administration 7a working capital loan.
Owen, Jo and Ted found a location at Tapestry Park, a brand new mixed use community that was recently built on the Southside. While the location was no in a high visibility or traffic area, the owners were confident that their strong relationships within the running community would mitigate that issue.
With their SBA loan approved, the owners did much of the leasehold improvement themselves to save money. They bought a company vehicle and a mobile fitting trailer called McFit. This high visibility, mobile store would enable the Jacksonville Running Company to visit schools, corporations and special event and fit customers on the spot. A mascot/logo called Sunny would be used to promote branding.
Monahan visited the store several times to help out and discuss grand open strategies such as multiple, targeted grand openings and promotions. The store was already selling to customers prior to grand opening.
By February 8th, 2009, the Jacksonville Running Company was open. By ten in the morning, there were customers waiting at the door. The partners have been running in races with their company logo shirts and finished first and third in the race.
The SBDC conducted a formal ribbon cutting for the Jacksonville Running Company on February 13th.

In addition, Regional Director Janice Donaldson and FSBDC State Director Jerry Cartwright met with owners and took a photo with merchandise.

Today, the Jacksonville is extremely busy with both in store sales and taking the McFit system on the road on a nearly daily basis. The future looks bright for Sunny and the Jacksonville Running Company!


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